Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Best Of Summer. Sweet Corn and Chipotle Chili Ice Cream with Walnut Chili Brittle. Thanks OXO!

    For the last several months I haven't been doing a whole lot of cooking. I've been operating out of a  borrowed kitchen while our new house is being remodeled. I've been cooking out of the boxes I've carried from our old house to our temporary rental and as a result of my careful planning, I can't find most of the stuff I brought with me. That's even if I did bring it with me because I realize some stuff may be in storage. My answer to cooking out of my many mystery boxes has led me to only make the simplest dishes. So, when an opportunity came along to try out some ice cream tools from OXO of course I said yes!  What's simpler than ice cream? Not much it turns out, provided one can find their ice cream machine. That was a little trickier in my case.
   After a rummage through a nest of boxes, in the temporary garage, I located the machine, but my metal ice cream storage containers were nowhere to be found. No problem as it turned out, since OXO sent along a terrific container that worked beautifully and took up very little space in the freezer. After that, my only challenge was to come up with a flavor of ice cream that made the best of a Sonoma summer.
   I wandered through the Farmers Market but nothing particularly caught my eye until I saw the Sweet Summer Corn. Having raised parrots, I was familiar with the charms of sweet corn and of Alex the Genius parrots' love for it.

   Sweet corn, soft corn, ice cream. It seemed like a natural connection. Yeah, right. In LA I remember the elotes vendors who'd push their carts around the neighborhood and would be parked outside of the school yards every afternoon, mobbed by kids enjoying the sweet corn on a stick loaded with contijo cheese, mayo and spices. Then there were the Tamal Dulce with sugar and raisins at Tamales Lilianas in East LA. This place is so good they have two locations!

Anyway, before I make myself any hungrier fantasizing about tamales that are 500+ miles away from me.... the logic went like this, if I can eat sweet corn tamales, why not sweet corn ice cream?

Sweet Corn and Chipotle Chili Ice Cream With Walnut Chipotle Brittle


Here's What You Need:
2 ears of sweet white corn
2 cups of cream
2 cups of milk
3/4 cup of sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/8 to 1/4 tsp of ground chipotle chili
2 cups walnut halves
1/4 cup of sugar
3 Tbs unsalted butter
chipotle chili to taste
a pinch of Kosher salt

Here's What To Do:
Shuck, wash and remove the kernels from two ears of corn.

Set them aside.
Pour 2 cups of cream into a large pot.

Add in 2 tsp of good quality vanilla. I use Gaya Mexican Vanilla but any good brand will do.

Add in 3/4 cup of sugar.

Bring the cream, sugar, and vanilla to a low simmer.
When the mixture starts to simmer, add in the kernels of corn.
Let the corn simmer for about 3 or 4 minutes until it's slightly tender.
Take the mixture off the fire and add in 2 cups of milk.

Add in the ground chipotle chili.

About The Chili:
Add it slowly and in small amounts. Let it sit for a bit to let the heat develop before you add more as you want to get the heat to a desirable level.This is a total matter of taste. 

Before putting the mixture into your ice cream machine let it chill in the fridge for several hours or even overnight as I did so the flavors can mellow. Before you put the ice cream in the machine check the flavor again for heat. If it's okay with your taste buds, you're good to go.

Pour the ice cream into your machine.

 When it's churned and read scoop it out...

...and into a freezer-safe container.

Since I usually use metal containers I was a bit suspicious as to whether or not the OXO freezer box would deliver a tight enough seal. I should have known better....

OXO, great as usual. Also, it fit perfectly into the freezer of the fridge I'm using.

Once the ice cream goes into the fridge to set up for a bit, make the Walnut Chipotle Brittle.
Patsy was an eager audience.

Add 3 Tbs of butter to a skillet.
As it melts add in add 1/4 cup of sugar.

Stir it all together.

Let it all melt together.
When the caramel has thickened add the nuts to the mixture...

...and 1/4 tsp of Kashmiri chili.

Stir it all together. If it starts to thicken up too much just put it back on the heat to soften it.
Pour it onto a heatproof plate or silicone mat,  (which is what I would have used had I been able to find mine. I substituted a paper plate.)

Sprinkle the whole with a bit of sea salt and  your are done. Let it harden a cool for a bit.
When you are ready to serve it up, chop your nut brittle.

I used the nifty chopper I got from OXO.

One little push, and bingo. It's done.

Scoop the Sweet Corn Ice Cream into a bowl and scatter some of the chopped Walnut Brittle on top.

   There it is, the best of summer's corn in a dessert bowl. Sweet Corn Ice Cream. Was it good? The cream was suffused with the taste of the corn, the crunch of the nut brittle in the mix was perfect and at the end there was a nice heat to the whole thing. It was like eating cracker jack ice cream. Enough said. Definitely a keeper.

   Thanks to OXO for giving me such perfect tools to work with. I always love their stuff and buy it for my kitchen, but right here, right now, working out of temporary quarters, I couldn't have done this without them. Plus, I always love anyone who gives me an excuse to make ice cream.
 Coming up next, a Summer drink with Indian  flavors. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rhubarb Cherry Chutney, Because The Only Thing Better Than Free, Is A Sale!

    I never could resist a sale. Ever. Growing up in a very frugal blue collar family where money was tight, I learned to like a lot of stuff because it was cheap or on sale. Most of this stuff was fresh vegetables and fruit. No candies or sweet treats at our house, no sugary drinks, as they were considered an expensive indulgence.

   "Here,have an apple, there's a tree in the back yard" my mother would say.

   Thanks to her, I never developed a taste for soda, or a lot of the stuff my friends had in their lunchboxes in elementary school. I didn't get the Twinkies, or the Hostess SnoBalls. It's not that I didn't try to get that stuff. I attempted the usual trading at lunch but not many people (try no one) was interested in swapping me a Twinkie for a Gravenstein apple. I quickly became known around the school yard as Applecore Gori since remembering my moms no waste rule I ate the entire apple. Like a goat.

   Like a small goat I also learned to forage around the neighborhood. I learned to pick and eat sour grass, parts of certain flowers had centers that contained a sweet nectar. There were edible berries in Golden Gate Park around the corner, and it seemed like nearly everyone's yard, even in the midst of a neighborhood of drifting sand dunes, had some tree that produced some sort of fruit. Later, when I moved to Los Angeles, I loved having lemons and avocados in the backyard, strawberry guava trees and loquats which a lot of people ignored but which make excellent chutney. Now, here in Sonoma all sorts of edible plants abound.  I've planted fruit trees at our new house, and I also do my share of gleaning. But even here in Sonoma, I can't always find everything I want growing by the side of the road. That's where the sale gene kicks in. When they throw up those numbers and percentage marks, that's when I come running.
   Last week there was a sale at our local Whole Foods. They were offering beautiful organic cherries for 1.99 a pound. I was so there. At the same time I saw some great local rhubarb for cheap so I snapped that up too. So there I was, rhubarb and cherries in hand, what to do, what to do?

    Since I am still in a temporary kitchen, I have very few of my usual cooking tools because of my "Fragile!" "Glass!" brilliant idea so it seemed that baking anything was out of the question. I did have a large skillet and measuring spoons, and that seemed to be all I needed to make a quick and tasty chutney. There are a lot of ways to make chutney. This is a very simple one and you can adjust the seasoning to whatever you'd like heat-wise. Just taste and adjust as you go. It's that easy.

Cherry Rhubarb Chutney

Here's What You Need:
1 lb of rhubarb
1 lb of fresh Bing cherries
1/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of sugar
6 pods green cardamom, cracked seeds removed
6 cloves
2 pinches of Kashmiri chili
2 large cinnamon sticks
2 pinches of ground cinnamon
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Here's What To Do:
Wash the cherries and rhubarb
Cut the tough ends and the little green leaves off of the stallks if there are any.

Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces.

Put the cut rhubarb into a large bowl.
Pit the cherries.

Cut the pitted cherries into halves.

Mix the cherry halves with the rhubarb pieces.

Mix the water and sugar together in a skillet. Turn the heat up to medium and mix the water and sugar together until they're well blended.
Add in the rhubarb and cherries.

Toss in the cinnamon sticks, the cinnamon, the pinches of kashmiri chili, the cardamom seeds, and the cloves.

Bring the water to a boil, and when it does boil, turn the heat down to simmer. Cook the rhubarb and cherries down for about 35 minutes.

When the rhubarb and cherries have softened and cooked down add in the lemon juice.

Let the chutney cool down. Check the heat factor. If you'd like to add more chili do so but in very small amounts until you have the chutney as hot as you'd like it. Chili added to foods takes a while to sink in and when you add heat, let it sit for 15 minutes or so and check again before you add more.
Serve the chutney warm or at room temperature, but if you're not serving it right away, refrigerate it.

   This chutney can be used on a sandwich, with chicken or pork, even as a topping for ice cream or yogurt. Best of all it can be made with minimum equipment and in very little time. Coming up next, a cool summer ice cream and some cool equipment from OXO. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Gluten Free Vegan Dessert for the 4th, Chocolate Avocado Mousse. Yes, That's Right!

   It's July 4th, 5 PM and I'm sitting here with my feet up in a chocolate stupor and there's still more partying ahead. American Independence Day, July 4th, is an especially big day here in Sonoma. Parades, Barbecues, and Town Fireworks displays abound. I'm not the only one who thinks that our festivities are pretty cool. Evidently, it's why we made Travel and Leisure's list of  Americas' Top 10 Towns For July 4th Celebrations  this year, clocking in at #8! The whole town turns out for the festivities.

We may be the Heart of Wine Country but every July 4th we get all Norman Rockwell on your ass. We got your Boy Scouts...

...our local big bike riding historical recreator guy...

Farmers on parade...

The local theatrical company...

The staff of The Basque Boulangerie (our local hang)...

The local Clydesdales...

George Washington and Friends...

The Sonoma Town Band...


 And of course let's not forget that Sonoma started out as the capitol of Alta California, part of Mexico.  The Charros Del Valle strut their stuff.

With things like this going on, it's getting harder and harder to keep our little town our little secret anymore.

   After the parade we strolled back home and then over to Anne and Jeff McKibbens house for a cookout. Anne and Jeff are the people who make CocoaPlanet Chocolate, which brings me to this 4th of July treat, Chocolate Avocado Mousse. Chocolate Avocado Mousse is nothing new, in fact it's been sweeping across the food blogging world for quite a while now. It was new to me however. I was looking for something special, easy and quick to make for the holiday. I'm still in renovation world and haven't a clue as to where half my kitchen stuff is. I do however have a food processor, a pot, a couple of avocados and some really great chocolate, which is just about all that's needed for this recipe.

It's that simple.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Here's What You Need:
3/4 cup of full fat coconut milk
2 ripe avocados
7 oz of high quality chocolate ( I used 7 discs of CocoaPlanet Deep Dark Truffle Chocolate)
1 capfull of vanilla

Here's What To Do:
Peel the two avocados and place them in a food processor.

Puree them.

Add in 3/4 cup of full fat coconut milk.

When you have a smooth creamy puree, pour it all into a large bowl.

Melt the chocolate by placing it in a bowl set on top of a pot of boiling water.

When the chocolate has melted, add it to the avocado coconut puree.

Mix everything together well. Make sure it's blended thoroughly.
Add in a capful of vanilla and stir it in well.
Taste test. If you need to add a bit more sugar to get the flavor you want, do so.
When you're happy with the taste, pour the mousse into individual serving dishes and put them into the fridge to chill.
After its chilled for a couple of hours, and is firm. Serve it up.
I topped mine with some raspberries.

   Ok, but how is avocado and chocolate mousse really? For one thing, it's gluten free, and vegan. But what does that prove? I have to say I was nervous serving this stuff. It tasted great to me but who knew what others would think. Avocado and chocolate is not exactly what most people think of when they think of dessert.  The two people I was worried about most were Alan, my husband who seemed genuinely nervous around all that avocado which is not very high on his list of favorite foods if it's not served as guac with chips. The other guy who had me on edge was Trevor, age 9. Having had an extra dark chocolate truffle spit-bounced off my head by a 5 year old  years ago, I was right to be nervous.

   As it turned out, I didn't have to worry, he loved it! Whew! And so did Alan. So, all those telling me of the benefits of mixing chocolate and avocado turned out to be right. It's a great dessert. The fats are healthy ones, and it's vegan, gluten, and lactose free. The prefect dessert to serve to those who follow various dietary rules, that everyone can enjoy.
   This evening, we're off to the Town Fireworks which make for a great display off of Mr. X's deck. I'm looking forward to being able to cook in our new house. The appliances arrive on Monday and we're zeroing in on a completion date when I hope my cooking tools will once again emerge. Meanwhile, what's coming next? Another dessert perfect for summer. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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